Asian Markets Lower As Coronavirus Fears Intensify

Asian stock markets are lower on Monday following the negative cues from Wall Street Friday amid concerns about the rapid spread as well as the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 2,700 people and killed 80 people in China. Trading volumes are thin with several markets in the region remaining shut for the Lunar New Year holidays.

The Japanese market is notably lower, while the safe-haven yen strengthened.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 401.69 points or 1.69 percent to 23,425.49, after falling to a low of 23,317.32 in early trades.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp. is losing almost 3 percent and Fast Retailing is lower by more than 3 percent.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is declining more than 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is down almost 2 percent.

The major exporters are lower on a stronger safe-haven yen. Panasonic is losing almost 2 percent, while Sony, Canon and Mitsubishi Electric are all declining more than 1 percent each.

Among auto stocks, Honda Motor is down almost 2 percent and Toyota Motor is lower by almost 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex and Japan Petroleum are falling more almost 2 percent each.

Among the other major decliners, J Front Retailing is losing more than 4 percent, while Unitika, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings and Nissan Chemical are lower by more than 3 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 109 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand and Indonesia are also lower. The markets in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are closed for public holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC confirmed the second case of the Chinese coronavirus in the U.S. and said another sixty-three patients in twenty-two states are being monitored for signs of infection. The news led to a resurgence in concerns about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Dow fell 170.36 points or 0.6 percent to 28,989.73, the Nasdaq slid 87.57 points or 0.9 percent to 9,314.91 and the S&P 500 slumped 30.07 points or 0.9 percent to 3,295.47.

Meanwhile, the major European markets showed strong moves to the upside on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1 percent and the German DAX Index surged up by 1.4 percent.

Crude oil prices extended recent losses on Friday amid rising concerns about the outlook for energy demand and excess supply in the market. WTI crude for March delivery tumbled $1.40 or about 2.5 percent to $54.19 a barrel.

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